Justice targets back on the agenda
The Law Council has redoubled its call for the Australian Government to create a series of justice targets to end the dis-proportionally high imprisonment rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, have increased by 88 per cent in the last decade, and are nothing short of a national crisis that requires a strong national response.
The call for justice targets came on the 10-year anniversary of the Rudd Government’s Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples and one day after the Turnbull Government’s tabling of the 10th Closing the Gap report. Justice targets would help drive change among all Australian governments by outlining clear markers for improvement and create accountability for falling short.
As set out in the Change the Record Coalition’s Blueprint for Change, targets could include:
- to close the gap in the rates of imprisonment by 2040; and
- to cut the disproportionate rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to at least close the gap by 2040, with priority strategies for women and children.
The Law Council will be advocating for COAG to adopt an intergovernmental strategy to reduce rates of youth detention and distinct strategies in relation to reducing imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women and we must lend our voice in the debate regarding national recognition and redress for our first Australians.
We believe the Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory represented a missed opportunity to demonstrate national leadership and deliver a national, comprehensive, intergovernmental response to the recommendations - including raising the age of criminal responsibility.
The Royal Commission has given us some very clear recommendations, and we must play our part as a profession to help governments act on them. The Law Council is committed to working to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice outcomes, through initiatives like the Law Council’s Justice Project and will continue to advocate for improvements in this area.